Black Caps' late heroics take down England

Andrew Alderson,
Publish Date
Sunday, 25 February 2018, 10:19PM
Ross Taylor scored his 18th ODI century, and 35th for New Zealand, as the Black Caps chased down 285 against England. (Photo \ Getty Images)
Ross Taylor scored his 18th ODI century, and 35th for New Zealand, as the Black Caps chased down 285 against England. (Photo \ Getty Images)

Ross Taylor's 18th one-day international century and a heroic Mitchell Santner cameo led New Zealand to a three-wicket victory over England in the opening match of their one-day international series at Hamilton.

An astrophysicist or psychologist would struggle to bring context to the numbers and mental pressure both contemplated walking to the wicket.

Santner brought finality swinging Chris Woakes over deep-mid-wicket for six to leave him 45 from 27 balls with Tim Southee offering camaraderie at the non-striker's end. When he arrived with 80 required off 49 balls the challenge was steep.

His effort in the tug-o-war between bat and ball, eventually hauled the match New Zealand's way against the renowned English death bowling.

Taylor laid the platform.

England and New Zealand duelled in a manner suggesting their one-day international rivalry picked up where it exited after the five-match thriller of 2015.

On that occasion England won 3-2 in a series that produced a then-world record 3151 runs. Little has changed in tempo, although England's 284 for eight was light by their standards. In 29 ODI innings batting first since the World Cup, they have passed 300 on 19 occasions.

A score of 285 or more had only been chased down twice at Seddon Park.

Latham's effort was his highest score at home in 15 ODIs.

Taylor became the fastest New Zealand batsman to 7000 ODI runs, completing the feat in his 188th innings, faster than Stephen Fleming (237 innings) and Nathan Astle (212).

The pair seized a keyhole of opportunity as the outfield dew took hold. They wore down an England attack in which spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali struggled for control.

Momentum was divided more equally across the England innings.

New Zealand restricted the visitors to 34 for one in a nine-over opening partnership between Southee and Trent Boult. The first six overs contained 29 dot balls. 

Jason Roy (49 off 66 balls) and Joe Root (71 off 75) fought back with a second-wicket stand of 79 to take them to 89 in the 19th over.

No partnership was worth more than 42 after that, but England's batting depth paid dividends as they sustained and eventually accelerated the run rate. Buttler heaving Sodhi for three sixes in the 32nd over helped.

New Zealand's best bowler, despite a lack of wickets, was Tim Southee. The right-armer finished with none for 47, including an opening maiden. On another day, like the 2015 World Cup pool match against England at Wellington, the wickets column could have read differently.

His first spell of five overs cost 14 runs, his second of two cost 10 and his death overs conceded 24, including 13 from the final six balls of the innings. He demonstrated maturity adjusting his pace and variations.

Plenty of intrigue surrounded Ben Stokes return for the first time since he was charged with affray after a scrap outside a Bristol nightclub in September. He was ushered down a red carpet into New Zealand conditions by Canterbury with three List A and three T20s in December.

The crowd offered a vanilla reaction to his entrance; neither boos nor cheers held sway. He grappled to 12 off 22 balls against a mixture of pace and spin, before Santner lured him into a slog sweep from around the wicket. The ball ballooned to Taylor running to his right from backward point.

In contrast, Stokes' bowling was tight. His pace, in the high 130km/h bracket, and slower ball variations hinted at why he is considered such a valuable Indian Premier League all-rounder asset on his way to two for 43

He entered at 27 for two in the ninth over with Kane Williamson traipsing past him. Within four dot balls his batting partner Guptill was on his way too, as England bowlers David Willey and Chris Woakes combined to dominate the opening powerplay.

Taylor and Tom Latham (79 from 84 balls) were having none of it as they posted a 178-run partnership in 182 balls, a record for the fourth-wicket between both countries.

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